February 23, 2006

Cars for all

Figures, again: maybe I'll make this an occasional series. (First two were on the effect education has on age at marriage of women, and how many Indians use the Web).

The Census data is a goldmine of interesting information, if you're into that kind of thing. Here's one nugget I found not long ago.

We see cars everywhere in India, or certainly in urban India -- more every day, choked traffic, flyovers and sea-links built so the cars can move faster. Again, judging by how many people I know own cars, it would be easy to say that everyone owns one.

But obviously, everyone doesn't own one. Exactly how many cars are there in India?

I haven't found a figure yet, though I'm sure it is available somewhere. What I found instead was a table based on the 2001 Census data that gives the number of Indian households that have each of various assets -- TV and radio, for example, and cars.

The 2001 Census reported about 192 million households in India. How many of those do you think owned cars (or jeeps or vans)? Take a guess, before you read further.

Answer: about 4.8 million. About one in 40 Indian households. Let's be wildly generous and say each of those 4.8 million households owns two cars (or jeeps or vans). That's less than ten million of these vehicles in India in 2001.

(I don't know the figures now, but when I lived in the States in the '80s, ten million was about how many cars were sold each year in that country).

As before, I don't quote this figure to talk about privilege, or poverty, or a comparison with the USA, nothing like that. I simply mean to say, these snapshots tell me things about this country. (The table has more such snapshots).


Source: This table from the 2001 Census.


Bicyclemark said...

I've often spend hours running through the US census data.. but this looks even more interesting. thanks dilip... and umm.. pick yourself up a jeep while youre out today... join the millions.

Anonymous said...

If you could say something instead of just putting up stats, it would be more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Again, judging by how many people I know own cars, it would be easy to say that everyone owns one.

You move in pretty affluent circles, man. I tried going through the various folks I know, and out of 30-odd households I could think of, about 1 in 5 had cars. All of them upper middle class urban families.

Pareshaan said...

Thanks to your link I now know that Hoshiarpur district in Punjab is aptly named - it seems to be the most literate of all Punjabi districts.

Shashikant Kore said...


is the data about current shipments.

Last fiscal year, 1 million passanger vehicles were shipped. Looking at the trend, by March '06, the number of cars on street should be around 10 million mark. Just a guess!


Dilip D'Souza said...

BicycleM, welcome. You need a ride anytime in my jeep, you just ask me, OK?

Anirudh, it's my considered opinion that the stats say something by themselves!

Pareshaan, is that right?! I'm thrilled. Maybe the name fuels study and intelligence?

And Shashi, thanks so much for that link. I see the 1M PVs last year, and I see the totals for the previous years, but how did you get the 10M figure? Are you adding the 4.8M of 2001 and the yearly sales totals since then? Or is there some other table available? Just wondering.

Shashikant Kore said...

Correction. Correct link is this

Yeah, I added car sales from 2001-2005, which is approx 4M. (Sales in 2000-2001 may be an issue of contention.) Another 1M may get added in 2005-2006. This total of 5M added to earlier 4.8M gives a ballpark figure of 10M. This is not accurate (it may be off by as much as 10-15%), but it gives a broad picture.

Anonymous said...

is there data distributed for cities/towns/villages?

i guess it may be 1 in 500 if you take just villages

Anonymous said...

As this is a blog and not a column, I guess putting up just stats is "okay".
*looks paternalistic*

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